This lovely Beef Stroganoff with brandy and mushrooms and onions was another America’s Test Kitchen success from their “Best International Recipe” cookbook that I bought used after succumbing to the delights of their Thai Chili Beef and Szechwan Green Beans. Beef Stroganoff was a comfort food during my childhood which I had (oddly) never attempted to make myself. All of that changes today. And I’m dragging you along on the journey. Aren’t you glad?!?*
*Please only answer the above question using a) “yes,” b) “you betcha!” c) “can’t wait, girlfriend!” or d) “All of the above.” Thank you and goodnight.
1 1/2 lbs flap meat sirloin steak tips
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
10 oz white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 onion, minced
2 TBS flour
1 tsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup brandy
1 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice
1 TBS minced parsley leaves
Pound the beef to 1/2 inch thickness:
I like to cover meat with parchment paper to avoid bits of flying bacteria. I used to pound the meat naked in our little kitchen in the dorms during college. If anyone got some kind of food poisoning as a result, I sincerely apologize. I was extremely unconcerned about culinary hygiene in those days. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Unless, of course, it makes you weaker.
Anyway! Slice the pounded beef into strips 2 inches wide, and then slice each strip crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Confused? Here’s a visual:
All chunked up! Great. The worst part is over.
Pat the beef dry with paper towels (seriously, this will help it brown waaay better) . . .
. . . and season it with salt and pepper.
Can I just point out how the focus in that picture is on the little falling grains of salt? Yep. Awesome. And a total accident, by the way. Lest you should think my photographic skills are greater than they are and start expecting pictures with grains of salt in focus all the dang time. That would just be . . . too much pressure.
Heat 1 TBS of the oil over medium high heat in a 12 inch skillet. When quite hot, toss in half the beef chunks.
Let ’em sit for a couple minutes before moving them around. Brown the beef on both sides (about 6 minutes).
When the beef is done (= browned, since it will finish cooking through later), remove it to a bowl:
Heat another 1 TBS of oil and cook the second batch of beef in the same way, removing it to the same bowl when it’s done. Trust me–do it in two batches even if your efficient soul is trying to rebel against the words I am speaking to you. It guarantees a nice sear on the meat (which guarantees flavor) instead of a floppy steam (which breeds despair, hysteria, and angry taste buds). As a recovering Efficiency Addict, I can state with confidence that sometimes the ‘best flavor’ and the more ‘efficient way’ have to duke it out–and only one can win.
While the meat is cooking, other prep work can occur: mincing the onion, for one.
Slicing the mushrooms if you didn’t buy the pre-sliced kind like me. Chopping the parsley.
Juicing the lemon.
You only need 2 tsp of the lemon juice, but you can always use the rest to make a Hot Honey ‘n’ Lemon if it’s raining, or a chilled glass of lemonade if it’s hot and sunny.
Add the rest of the oil to the skillet, and when it’s nice and hot add the mushrooms and onion . . .
. . . along with 1/2 tsp of salt.
Immediately the veggies and fungi will start absorbing the meat particles from the skillet. It will smell like paradise.
Cook for about 8 minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.
Stir in the flour . . .
. . . and tomato paste . . .
. . . and cook for 30 seconds.
You should stir constantly at this point to avoid burnination of the ingredients.
Yes, ‘burnination’ is a technical term. Haven’t you heard of Trogdor?
Now whisk in the broth little by little.
Add the brown sugar . . .
. . . brandy . . .
. . . and beef (with juices).
Stir it all around, bring it to a simmer and turn down the heat to low.
Cook uncovered for 30-35 minutes–the beef will cook through and the sauce will thicken during this time. I also used this interval to cook up some egg noodles.
Once the 30 minutes are up, take the skillet off the heat. Stir a couple spoonfuls of hot sauce into the sour cream to temper it (so that it doesn’t curdle when it hits the hot dish).
Add the tempered sour cream to the skillet . . .
. . . along with the lemon juice . . .
. . . and parsley.
Season to taste, and you’re done!
Serve over rice or pasta–I thought that egg noodles were perfect.
The sauce is flavorful without being overly rich.
The creaminess is perfectly offset by the acidity of the sour cream and lemon juice.
The mushrooms . . . don’t get me started. I love them under any guise.
Me and the fungi–we’re best buds.
This is nothing like the quasi-hamburger helper versions of beef stroganoff out there. There’s a place for those . . . but the chunks of meat in this one have me converted. Give ‘er a whirl!
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